Congressman Tim Huelskamp’s opinion piece, “The War on Marriage and Motherhood,” in the Washington Times on April 1 is an excellent case in point of how the Tea Party or at least Rep. Huelskamp is a disappointment to democracy.
While attending K-State, I worked as an intern for then state Sen. Huelskamp during the 2003, 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions. I was especially interested in wind energy, and being from Dodge City, this was a booming business to be interested in. Between getting kicked off of committees and doing interviews with the press, Huelskamp was seeking a way to prevent same gender couples from having rights in Kansas.
I learned many truths about the political process during those internships and valued every minute, but I have always regretted not voicing my opposition to the blatant discrimination and bigotry disguised as religious principles. Huelskamp went on to author the Kansas Marriage Amendment, which defined marriage narrowly as between a man and woman. Perhaps, like many Kansans at the time, I was not confident enough to speak up. I had never been married, and was just a student trying to sit back and learn.
In the years since, I have grown stronger in my Christian faith, been to combat, married and became a father. My silence is no longer acceptable and would be a disservice to my children and the country I fought for.
Equality is a fundamental tenet of American democracy. Rep. Huelskamp has never evolved and perhaps has devolved with the creation of the Tea Party and his opportunistic tack that propelled him to Congress. His recent opinion piece is laden with bad taste and even worse leadership. After offering his model for marriage, he goes on to infer that First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative could jeopardize the right to eat apple pie.
Somehow, he then segues into making a case that motherhood and Mother’s Day would be destroyed by marriage equality. From there, in strict Tea Party fashion, Huelskamp misconstrues a quote from a speech that then-Sen. Barack Obama gave advocating for African American fathers to actually stick around and be fathers. Rep. Huelskamp has mastered the ability to manifest fear and twist what should be heralded as inspiring and much needed advice to African American men by a future African American president as somehow justifying that same-gender parents are detrimental to the health and welfare of American children.
In Huelskamp’s America, the 40,000 children in California with same-gender parents (who are not legally married) are just supposed to reject the person — the parent — currently raising them and demand a “father” or “mother” so the family can be “traditional.” The argument he makes on behalf of children is extremely reckless. His stance is obviously a result of his theology overruling his responsibility to distinguish the roles of the church and of government.
Government demands a marriage contract to grant certain benefits for families to better care for their children. Church demands “Holy Matrimony” and does not require a written license or contract to receive the benefits of worship. Kansas and the United States need good government leaders, not theologically driven panderers.
When you root yourself in that theological stance, you open the door to many unintended consequences that the founders fiercely tried to avoid by separating church and state.
Aaron Estabrook lives at 3317 Woodduck Way.